Tell managers to document hypersensitive worker’s behavior — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Tell managers to document hypersensitive worker’s behavior

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in Human Resources

Some employees are more sensitive to criticism than others and may display behavior that is inappropriate in the workplace or even bizarre.

Such employees may also be more likely to file hostile work environment lawsuits. They may assume they’re being criticized or cited for work problems because their bosses are discriminating against them.

Managers with difficult subordinates would do well to track the behavior. It can be used in court to show that those subordinates have a skewed perception of the workplace.

Recent case: Antoinette Clair is from Bulgaria and speaks with a heavy accent. She was fired from her job for alleged e-mail abuse. Clair assumed she was targeted because of her national origin and sued.

She told the court co-workers made numerous comments about Bulgaria and its shortcomings—and that this constituted a hostile environment. Several employees apparently criticized the Bulgarian educational system.

The employer put co-workers and supervisors on the stand. They testified that Clair was overly sensitive and would cry in her cubicle for days after a small setback or criticism. She cried for a day after being told she needed to be more aggressive when ordering parts, for example. When she was fired, she began to sob and collapsed on the floor.

The court concluded she was hypersensitive and that a reasonable employee would not have interpreted the co-worker comments as a hostile environment. The case was dismissed. (Clair v. Augusta Aerospace, No. 07-938, ED PA, 2009)

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